Song of the Day #4,032: ‘Isis’ – Bob Dylan

A few years ago I made a quick reference to a website called PopSpots, where a man named Bob Egan tracks down and documents the exact locations of album covers.

The PopSpot I referenced was the cover of Billy Joel’s 52nd Street. That was a relatively easy one (the location is right there in the title), but Egan still did a very thorough job of finding the exact location despite 40 years of New York City development.

Today I thought I’d give Egan another shout-out, and for a much more difficult and detailed investigation — the cover shot of Bob Dylan’s 1976 album Desire.

Desire is on my mind lately because I just started watching Martin Scorsese’s NetFlix documentary Rolling THunder Revue, which chronicles the tour following Desire‘s release and features some extraordinary live performances of its songs. The standout performance is of today’s SOTD, ‘Isis.’

Egan tracks down Desire‘s album cover location to a small park in Plymouth, Massachusetts, using online sources and real-world legwork. He could land a job with the FBI based on this post alone. Along the way, he lays out an entertaining history of both the area and the months surrounding the recording and release of Desire.

If you’re a fan of music, history, photography, internet sleuthing, or any combination of those things, spend a little time on PopSpots. You won’t be disappointed.

[Verse 1]
I married Isis on the fifth day of May
But I could not hold on to her very long
So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong

[Verse 2]
I came to a high place of darkness and light
Dividing line ran through the center of town
I hitched up my pony to a post on the right
Went in to a laundry to wash my clothes down

[Verse 3]
A man in the corner approached me for a match
I knew right away, he was not ordinary
He said “Are you looking for something easy to catch?”
Said “I got no money”
He said “That ain’t necessary”

[Verse 4]
We set out that night, for the cold in the North
I gave him my blanket, and he gave me his word
I said “Where are we going?” He said we’d be back by the fourth
I said “That’s the best news that I’ve ever heard”

[Verse 5]
I was thinking about turquoise, I was thinking about gold
I was thinking about diamonds, and the world’s biggest necklace
As we rode through the canyons, through the devilish cold
I was thinking about Isis, how she thought I was so reckless

[Verse 6]
How she told me that one day we would meet up again
And things would be different the next time we wed
If I only could hang on and just be her friend
I still can’t remember all the best things she said

[Verse 7]
We came to the pyramids, all embedded in ice
He said “There’s a body I’m trying to find
If I carry it out it’ll bring a good price”
‘Twas then that I knew what he had on his mind

[Verse 8]
The wind it was a-howlin’, and the snow was outrageous
We chopped through the night
And we chopped through the dawn
When he died I was hoping that it wasn’t contagious
But I made up my mind that I had to go on

[Verse 9]
I broke into the tomb, but the casket was empty
There was no jewels, no nothing! I felt I’d been had
When I saw that my partner was just being friendly
When I took up his offer I must’ve been mad

[Verse 10]
I picked up his body and I dragged him inside
Threw him down in the hole, and I put back the cover
I said a quick prayer, then I felt satisfied
Then I rode back to find Isis, just to tell her I love her

[Verse 11]
She was there in the meadow, where the creek used to rise
Blinded by sleep, and in need of a bed
I came in from the East, with the sun in my eyes
I cursed her one time, then I rode on ahead

[Verse 12]
She said “Where you been?” I said “No place special”
She said “You look different” I said “Well… I guess”
She said “You been gone” I said “That’s only natural”
She said “You going to stay?” I said “If you want me to, yes”

[Verse 13]
Isis, oh, Isis, you mystical child
What drives me to you is what drives me insane
I still can remember the way that you smiled
On the fifth day of May in the drizzling rain

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,032: ‘Isis’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Peg says:

    How fascinating. I will check it out!

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    As I probably mentioned before, Desire and Blood on the Tracks were my entry point for exposure to Dylan’s music, having heard my sister play them repeatedly on her now legendary green box phonograph player (the one that my sister used as a symbol of inequity between us and example of how I was the favored child because I was given a Radioshack Realistic “quadrophonic” stereo system). These remain among my favorite Dylan albums, with Blood on the Tracks still holding top honors.

    That website on album cover research is, once again, fascinating. I put a vote in for a future theme week with more of his posts!

  3. robertegan99 says:

    Dear MMIM,

    Thanks for the shout out. Glad you’re liking my PopSpots. That was a fun search as I’m from Massachusetts originaly and knew Pymouth a little. Have a great summer in sunny Montauk! – Bob Egan

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